Brazil's Bolsonaro stayed two days in Hungarian embassy after passport seized

Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro testifies on the January 8 riots, in Brasilia

By Steven Grattan

(Reuters) -Brazil's far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro stayed for two nights at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia last month, just days after federal police confiscated his passport and arrested two former aides on suspicion of plotting a coup, Bolsonaro's lawyer said on Monday.

Bolsonaro's Feb. 12-14 stay at the Hungarian embassy was first reported by the New York Times based on security camera footage from inside the embassy.

The episode raises questions about the former president's plans as he faces multiple criminal investigations in Brazil, with several members of his inner circle already in jail. Brazilian police would not be able to arrest a politician staying at a foreign embassy.

Bolsonaro's lawyer Fabio Wajngarten said on social media that the ex-president spent two days housed in the Hungarian embassy "to maintain contact with officials of the friendly country" and "get updates on the political landscape of both nations".

"Any other interpretations that go beyond the information provided here are clearly fictional, unrelated to the reality of the facts and are, in practice, just another piece of fake news," Wajngarten wrote.

On Monday evening, Brazil's foreign ministry summoned Hungary's ambassador to clarify the reasons behind Bolsonaro's stay at the embassy.

The Hungarian embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New York Times said Bolsonaro's lawyer had declined to comment on their report, but a Hungarian embassy official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the plan to host the former president.

Bolsonaro has good relations with fellow far-right leader, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Bolsonaro called Orban his "brother" during a 2022 visit to Hungary and the two met this year in Buenos Aires during the inauguration of Argentina's new right-wing President Javier Milei.

Police seized Bolsonaro's passport on Feb. 8 and accused him of editing a draft decree to overturn the results of the 2022 election, pressuring military chiefs to join a coup attempt and plotting to jail a Supreme Court justice.

Last year a Brazilian court ruled that Bolsonaro is ineligible for political office until 2030 for spreading electoral misinformation during the 2022 election.

Two weeks ago, the former heads of Brazil's army and air force confirmed that Bolsonaro had discussed the draft decree to prevent the handover of power after the vote.

On March 19 federal police also accused him of fraud on his vaccination records, opening the door to criminal charges.

(Reporting by Steven Grattan in Sao Paulo; Editing by Brad Haynes, Nia Williams and David Gregorio)